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Why Are My Tax Dollars Being Used To Defend DOMA?

Why Are My Tax Dollars defending DOMA?

By Ernest Barteldes

When President Clinton signed the Defense of Marriage act back in 1996, it was nothing but a political move: with the general election looming, he wanted the topic (which was beginning to make some waves back then after Hawaii allowed civil unions) out of the way, since there was enough controversy as he faced another election just a few months down.

Over a decade and a half later, the law is facing numerous challenges as attitudes towards same-sex marriage change in the US. Last year, President Obama instructed the Attorney General to no longer defend challenges to the act as the White House no longer believes that marriage is meant to be a sacrosanct act between a man and a woman.

That order would arguably clear the path for marriage equality for all, but then the Republican-controlled House of Representatives decided to pick up the White House’s slack and retain an independent law firm to defend DOMA in the courts – on the taxpayers’ dime.

Every time I tune into political shows like Face the Nation or Meet the Press, all Republican representatives and senators talk about is government spending, entitlements and the like. However, these same men and women who talk so much about the deficit have approved shelling out $ 520 an hour (with a cap of 1.5 million that can be raised at the GOP’s leadership discretion) to pay for former Solicitor General Paul Clement to keep ‘traditional’ marriage in the books.

I would have no problem if Mr. Clement were working pro-bono or being paid through private donations from conservative organizations on behalf of the House, but this is not the case. Instead, his expenses are being footed by public funds with the support of the same politicians who apparently are supposed to curb spending in any way they can.

The fact is that DOMA is a clear affront not only to individuals but also to states’ rights (two points so eagerly argued by right-wing politicians). As a straight man, I can even get married overseas and my certificate will still be recognized in all 50 states, but if a gay couple does the same in New York, they still cannot claim federal benefits like joint taxes. It is also good to remember that eight Federal courts have declared that DOMA act violates Constitution’s the equal protection clause – which has motivated the Supreme Court to take up the issue during this judicial session.

Additionally, the conservative argument against 'redefining' marriage is just as wrong: for years we have changed laws regarding this: in the past, a female U.S. citizen was barred from marrying a foreign man under penalty of losing her own citizenship, and until 1967 thirteen states banned interracial marriage. Considering we have changed those laws, why would accepting same-sex marriage be such a blow to the "American way of life?"

It is time to have common sense about this issue. The House has no business getting into judiciary matters, and if the general public – especially fiscal conservatives – knew about this, I am sure that they would agree with my point of view even if they personally disapprove of same-sex marriage.

Reply 3 comments from Ernest Barteldes None2 Lawrence Morgan